Buy supplies, take classes, explore galleries
The upscale restaurants, galleries with rotating exhibitions and charming shops make for a fun family outing. Pop into galleries, pick up colorful post cards, peruse the bookstores, and dine at outdoor kid-friendly eateries. Older kids will like the gigantic, miraculous and colorful outdoor sculptures that dot the lanes – most double as a textural paradise kids can get their hands on. Avoid going on Mondays, when most of the galleries aren’t open to the public. Our picks for kid-friendly galleries include Ullens Center for Contemporary Art (UCCA) and Galleria Continua, both of which specialize in large installation works. Also check out Pei-Ming’s Landscapes of Childhood (Jun 19-Sep 13 at UCCA), which will feature 20 portraits of Chinese newborns. Partnering with non-for-profit organization, The United Foundation for Chinese Orphans (UFCO), the exhibition hopes to raise awareness of the plight of orphans and children whose families cannot afford medical health care.
Three Shadows Gallery
Run by husband-and-wife team, RongRong and Inri, this vibrant center for contemporary photography opened in 2007. Its beautiful courtyards are filled with cherry and pomegranate trees, making it a nice spot for lazy summer afternoons in the shade. Three Shadows is also home to a charming café where you can relax with a post-gallery coffee or a slice of cake for the kids.
Tue-Sun 10am-6pm. 155 East End Art, Caochangdi Village (Next to Platform China), Chaoyang District. (6432 2663)
www.threeshadows.cn 三影堂摄影艺术中心, 朝阳区草场地艺术东区155号(站台中国旁)
Songzhuang Artists’ village
Located in Tongzhou District, east of the Fifth Ring Road, Songzhuang is a dusty, unpolished, as-of-yet uncommercialized haven for the creatively-inclined Bohemian. Sculptures, statues, and traditional Chinese instruments driven violently through the center of Western sheet music are all there, alongside abstract, impressionist, and realist paintings. It’s not for everyone, but if 798 left you or your impressionable little ones wanting more, it’s well worth a visit. Perhaps the best way to see the village is to take a semi-tour in the back of a three-wheeled taxi owned by the local transport service. A good first-place destination is the Artist Village Gallery, whose owner has connections to this particular service. Best to call ahead to arrange a visit.
RMB 20. Daily 9am-6pm. North of Rencun, Songzhuang, Tongzhou District (6959 8343, or 139 0124 4283) www.artistvillagegallery.com 宋庄画家村画廊，通州区宋庄任村北一号
This shop sells an amazing selection of fashion and art books from both local and foreign publishers. They also offer Chinese teas, fresh fruit smoothies and selection of healthy and light cuisine.
Daily 9am-7.30pm. Dashanzi art district, 4 Jiuxianqiao Lu, Chaoyang District. (8456 0336)
www.timezone8.com 现代书店北京艺术书屋, 朝阳区酒仙桥路4号798大山子艺术区
Kids art classes
Are your kids creatively inclined? Take a break from gallery hopping and let them discover their inner Picasso. 3iart Center offers a range of art classes for children, teenagers and adults ranging from drawing to needlework. Classes are designed to foster inspiration, innovation and imagination – the three i’s behind the name – in young kids, and lessons often appeal to kids’ love of unusual, fun materials.
Classes at 3i are usually restricted to six children in order to give each child the most attention, with two teachers and an assistant present at every class. Founder Yang advises calling ahead to make an appointment, rather than just showing up for classes. The center offers classes in painting, clay, pottery, drawing and Chinese brush painting and calligraphy for kids ages 4-7, 8-12, and adults.
3iart Center. 1) 2F, Block A, Hairun International, Jiangtai Lu, Chaoyang District. (134 3983 3280); 2) 1/F, Bldg 3, Shidai Zhiguang Xiaoqu, 45 Xizhimen Beidajie, Haidian District. (134 3983 3280) www.3iart.com.cn 常青藤艺术工作室, 1) 朝阳区将台海润国际公寓A座2层; 2) 海淀区西直门北大街45号时代之光小区3号楼一层
Happy Land Arts and Crafts Center
Offers pottery, painting, jewelry making and even a house-call service for groups of 10 kids or more. Kids and parents love this spot, especially when it’s sweltering outside. The staff is patient, knowledgeable and able to speak functional English. Birthday parties can also be arranged.
Happy Land Arts and Crafts Center. Daily 9am-6pm (summer).
Xibaixinzhuang (near Capital Paradise), Houshayu, Shunyi District. (8046 4055, 136 6104 5892) 乐土工艺坊, 顺义区后沙峪西白辛庄村东（名都园的附近）
Buy art materials
Let the little ones express their creative urges, and stock up on some art and craft supplies. Try Beijing Gehua Baihua located just across the road from the China Art Museum. It has a huge selection of materials for drawing and painting – paint (RMB 25), easels (starting at RMB 25) and canvases (RMB 8-72). For the littler kids, head to one of Leyou’s many locations. Aside from all the standard baby essentials, Leyou has a wealth of art and craft supplies. They’ve even got you covered for Crayolas.
Beijing Gehua Baihua. Daily 9am-6.30pm. 10 Wusi Dajie, Dongcheng District. (6522 2511) www.baihuaart.cn 北京歌华百花美术用品, 东城区五四大街10号
Leyou.1) Daily 10am-8pm. B1/F Europlaza, 99 Yuxiang Lu, Tianzhu, Shunyi District. (8046 6350); 2) Daily 9am-8pm. 111 Jiaodaokou Dajie, Dongcheng District. (6405 6406); 3) Daily 9am-8pm. East gate of Sanyuanli Community, opposite Silver Tower (between Sanyuan Qiao and Sanyuan Dongqiao), Chaoyang District. (6463 8880); 4) Daily 9am-9pm. 203-204 Section A, 9 Wangjing Jie, Chaoyang District. (5920 3191); 5) Daily 9am-9pm. 143 Beituchen Xilu, Haidian District. (6201 7536) www.leyou.com 乐友儿童用品,1)顺义区天竺镇裕翔路99号欧陆购物中心地下1层；2）东城区交道口大街111号；3）朝阳区南银大厦对面三源里社区东门(三元桥和三元东桥之间);4)朝阳区望京街9号A区203-204;5)海淀区北土城西路143号
Conducted in English, CCC’s Chinese calligraphy class covers everything from the meaning and evolution of the characters to the history of the art form itself. No knowledge of Mandarin is necessary. Alternatively you can let the kids try their hand at calligraphy at home. Everything you need can be purchased at several stores on Liulichang Antiques and Culture Street (琉璃厂文化街). For more information on CCC’s eight-week calligraphy course (one lesson per week), visit www.chinesecultureclub.org or call 6432 9341.
Chinese Culture Club (CCC). Prices start from RMB 160 per class.
Kent Center, 29 Anjialou, Liangmaqiao Lu, Chaoyang District. 朝阳区亮马桥路29号安家楼肯特中心院内 6432 9341/1041′